The Art Of Helen Chadwick: Nebula
0 comment Wednesday, April 23, 2014 |
Recently, I wrote my undergraduate dissertation (thesis) on the benefits of a synthesis between art and science, focusing on the artwork of Helen Chadwick.
Luckily, The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds has a Helen Chadwick archive, so for my dissertation I got to delve in to Chadwicks sketchbooks, notebooks and preparatory work for her art pieces. There is also a box of her more private correspondence, and copies of her books with her own notations. You can view the notebooks online here, which is a great resource and easy to use.
I feel strongly that Helen Chadwick was way ahead of her time in her art-work, and that her work is still relevant today.

My favourite work, Nebula (1996) tackles the ethical implications of IVF treatment, the embryologist picks the most perfect embryo for insemination, just as a jeweller would choose the most perfect gem. Here, Chadwick has used "rejected" embryos to immortalise forever.
The definition of "Nebula" is interesting, as "Nebula" can describe both the clouding of an eye (an eye cataract) or the cloud of gas which appears when a star dies or is born, both implicating death. The image of the cataracted eye above is deliciously ambiguous, it could just as easily be a scene from space. This universality of a circular form is something I am fascinated with in my own art practice.
The dandelion in this piece acts as a paused clock, in storytelling / folklore, dandelions are said to measure the time by the breaths in which you blow off all of the seeds. source.
Put together, the rejected embryos suspended in formalin (an organic preservative chemical), the cataracted eye (or Nebula) and the dandelion clock, are a bold statement on the fragility of life.
I will be writing segments on the work of Helen Chadwick regularly, but if you would like to get a full overview in the meantime, this documentary is fantastic.

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